Presented by Ashley A. Dumas, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Anthropology
The University of West Alabama
In the eighteenth century, the French established numerous forts and settlements to maintain their claim to interior North America. Fort Tombecbe was one of the last strategic, military outposts to advance French interests and alliances in La Louisiane. Life at this fort depended on the Choctaws, whose influence in political and daily matters is documented through historic records and archaeology.
Dr. Ashley Dumas is an Associate Professor for the University of West Alabama (UWA) and an archaeologist who specializes in the late prehistory and history of the Southeastern U.S. Her dissertation at the University of Alabama presented the results of her excavations at a salt spring in southwest Alabama where Late Woodland to Mississippian (A.D. 900-1500) peoples evaporated brine to produce salt. These excavations inspired Dr. Dumas’ current project where she is co-editing a book with Dr. Paul Eubanks from Middle Tennessee State University on the production of salt in eastern North America and the Caribbean, to be published by the University of Alabama Press.
Dr. Dumas is also the Director of the Fort Tombecbe Archaeological site, owned by UWA and The Archaeological Conservancy, where she oversees biannual excavations, regular field trips, and an annual Community Day for the public. More information on the site can be found at www.forttombecbe.org, a website funded by a grant from the Alabama Historical Commission. She is involved in the Black Belt Slave Housing Survey, a long-term attempt to document extant slave dwellings in the Black Belt region of Alabama, and, in 2017, she was selected as the Lorraine McIlwain Bell Trustee Professor for service, teaching, and creative work.